Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds (James 1:2-3).
I know that I haven’t arrived yet because my reaction to trials is not pure joy. There are quite a few scriptures that encourage us by explaining why trials and suffering in this world are good for increasing our trust in God, spiritual growth, and growth in character. I get it—no pain; no gain, and the best lessons are the ones that follow a struggle. But I need a lot of work on the pure joy attitude.
This is a hard one if we try in our own strength to be joyful in suffering. It is almost like those monks that flogged themselves as a self-effacing punishment—something God would not condone. Jesus’s work on the cross paid the price; we do not have to add anything to that.
Ah, but the attitude for me is such a challenge. There are many things; however, that I have no problem in counting as pure joy—God’s unending unwavering patience, grace and love, and the continual presence of His Holy Spirit.
Even when I’m old and gray…let me proclaim your power to the next generation, your mighty miracles to all who came after me (Ps 71:18).
One of our most important jobs in this life is to pass on HIS story, the message of truth of the mighty power and saving grace of Christ Jesus, to the next generation.
When my children left home for college, marriage, or life on their own, I gave much thought as to whether or not we had prepared them enough—would they eat too many fast foods because they couldn’t cook, or mix whites with their jeans, or balance a checkbook, or, or, or.
Really they could survive in the world without knowing all these skills as long as they know who to go to. What better go-to person than the Creator, the One who designed the world, and the One who formed each unique person. He is there for the major hurdles, and He is there for the little things too.
In the Old Testament, God’s people built altars so that when their children inquired about them, they could tell the story of how God worked in their lives. I have seen Him work miraculously in my own life, especially in regard to His perfect timing, and I have never met a believer who doesn’t have a personal story.
Sharing our own stories of God’s miracles is really giving the next generation a gift much better than the heftiest trust fund—it’s sharing hope.
Go and sin no more (John 8:11).
At present I attend two ladies’ Bible studies, both different in a number of ways, but in both the word “judge” came up. In one, the focus was on a person; in the other, as an action. In a well-known scriptural passage, the adulterous woman was brought before Jesus and He was asked, “What do you say?”
The goal of these religious leaders was to trap Him, but His response neither dismissed her sin, nor condemned her. He turned to the accusers and said, “Let the one who never sinned throw the first stone.”
Whenever we point the finger of judgment (accusation) at someone, three fingers are pointing back to us. The ONLY sinless person, the ONLY one who has the right to judge said, “I do not condemn you.” The woman hadn’t even asked for forgiveness!
God’s character is one of both love and justice. Aren’t you glad!? He doesn’t dismiss our unrighteousness (justice); but He doesn’t use it to condemn us (love). Rather His motive is to draw us into an even closer relationship with Him.
So where do I fit into this scenario? Here is my role as a judge—DON’T. And as an unrighteous woman—Go (without condemnation) and sin no more.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
A short time ago, the message at our church impacted me so much that even though I may not do it justice in these few words, I would be remiss for not sharing and will prayerfully try.
Although God’s word never goes out and returns void, I chose a verse that even non-believers can quote. John 3:16 is so commonly used, the depths of its meaning has been lost.
How many of us as loving parents would choose to suffer pain, emotional hurt, or even death rather than see our child experience it? The anguish suffered by that parent is often more excruciating than the physical pain.
Our loving Father gave us His most precious, precious gift. His only be-loved Son was sent from a heavenly paradise to live on earth for the sole purpose of assuming our sins on His perfect humanity in order to pay the penalty for what we did. As a parent, the depths of His pain would have to be immeasurably greater than if the Father could do it Himself.
And then, because God cannot be in the presence of sin, the already grieving Father had to turn away from the Son. Many parents cannot even leave a child’s hospital bed to eat or sleep, but the Father, who is the very definition of love, had to for a time abandon the Son. He could not complete His purpose if “the cup passed” from Him.
Can there be any greater love than to give His Son–His dearly loved child?
The depths of this love story can only be matched by the joyous ending. Sin and eternal death are defeated. We are redeemed by the most costly price imaginable—the Father’s love.
Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).
One of the enemy’s most effective weapons today is the perversion of the truth–making evil seem attractive, or good, or even ambiguous. This is not a new strategy. It all started a few years back in the Garden of Eden, and it is flourishing in our world today. You can fill in the examples, but let’s refocus and look directly at God’s word.
People often point out “contradictions” in the Bible. I have personally questioned concepts many times and have found over and over and over again, that I was pulling a phrase totally out of context. Has anyone ever repeated something you may have said and without “the rest of the story” the meaning not only changed, but was even the opposite? The enemy delights in twisting God’s word and having us blindly believe it.
Much of the Old Testament concerns the Jewish law, over 613 rules, impossible for the even the most devout Jewish high priest to follow. Many of these Jewish rules are good guidelines for our health, for cleanliness, or like the Beatitudes, for our own righteous behavior. Some, like animal sacrifice for atonement, are fortunately unnecessary because of Jesus’s sacrifice that totally paid the price for our redemption. Because of grace we are free from those laws.
Contradictions? No, just a different context.
God wants us not only to comprehend the truths of His word, but to apply them in our lives. It is the formula for joy, peace and confidence for every believer.
Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Eph 5:21).
Our ladies’ group was discussing submission a few days ago and I was reminded of some of the principles that, as I saunter through the day, are so easy to disregard. I also realized that this topic and related scriptural references were ones that I had never written about—maybe because it is so volatile and misunderstood even among believers, and especially when dealing with less-than-perfect marriage relationships.
The goal of submission is not domination/subservience, but rather unity. And the path to unity is kindness, respect, honor and love—one to another.
Submission is lifting another up—not pulling or dragging, but lifting for the other’s greater good. That is so opposite of pride or even low self-esteem where we’re trying to make ourselves feel good, right, or knowledgeable.
Relationships always work best when we follow the instructions and guidelines of the Creator. And I personally think the connotations of the words arrogant and prideful are much more distasteful than that of one who serves out of love.
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).
Do you remember the cartoon where the main character had an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, each whispering in his ears? Well, that’s not far from the truth. Of course it is easy to distinguish the voice of God versus the enemy when the whispers are love and kindness as opposed to nastiness and revenge.
It’s quite different when one is whispering that we can never be forgiven for our horrible actions, words, or attitudes even if they happened decades ago. Guilt allows us to agree with the enemy rather than hear the love and forgiveness being whispered in the other ear.
Although God may correct us, He will never condemn us. (So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus). Think of a loving parent correcting a child’s behavior. It is done in love for the child’s benefit, not to castigate him.
So it is with our Heavenly Father. Once we are His, nothing can separate us from His love.